ROMAN INVASION AND CONQUEST IN BRITAIN
The Celtic Queen Boudicca of Iceni lead a successful assault on Roman fortresses in London, Colchester and Verulamium before being defeated by the Roman governor Suetonius Paulinus. Afterwards she committed suicide by taking poison. Roman historian Ammianus Marclelinus wrote: "A Gallic women, fighting beside her man, is a match for a whole troop of foreigners. Steely-eyed...she swells her neck, gnashes her teeth, flexes her huge white biceps, and rains wallops and kicks as though through the twisted cords of a catapult."
In A.D. 200, the Roman historian Herodian described the Britons as "ferocious fighters [who] tattoo their bodies with myriad patterns and all sorts of animals." The Romans believed the Britons gained strength from these tattoos. Tacitus vividly desribed a battle in A.D. 61 at Mona, now Anglesey, see Below.
Dr. Neil Faulkner of the University of Bristol wrote for the BBC: “In both 55 and 54 B.C., Julius Caesar had invaded Britain with the aim of conquest. But revolt in Gaul (modern-day France) had drawn him away before he had beaten down determined British guerrilla resistance. Britain had remained free – and mysterious, dangerous, exotic. In the popular Roman imagination, it was a place of marsh and forest, mist and drizzle, inhabited by ferocious blue-painted warriors. Here was a fine testing-ground of an emperor's fitness to rule. [Source: Dr Neil Faulkner, BBC, March 29, 2011 |::|]
“For the Claudian invasion, an army of 40,000 professional soldiers - half citizen-legionaries, half auxiliaries recruited on the wilder fringes of the empire - were landed in Britain under the command of Aulus Plautius. Archaeologists debate where they landed - Richborough in Kent, Chichester in Sussex, or perhaps both. Somewhere, perhaps on the River Medway, they fought a great battle and crushed the Catuvellauni, the tribe that dominated the south east. |::|
Then, in the presence of Claudius himself, they stormed the enemy capital at Camulodunum (Colchester). But resistance continued elsewhere. Pushing into the south west of Britain, the Romans fought a war of sieges to reduce the great Iron Age hill forts of the western tribes. Driving through and beyond the Midlands, they encountered stiffening opposition as they approached Wales, where the fugitive Catuvellaunian prince, Caratacus, rallied the Welsh tribes on a new anti-Roman front. |::|
“Wales took decades to subjugate. Before it was done, the east of Britain exploded in 60-61 AD. Bitterness against Roman oppression had driven Boudicca, queen of the Iceni tribe, into a revolt that came close to expelling the invaders. Later, under the provincial governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the Romans occupied northern Britain, reaching what is now called the Moray Firth in 84 AD. This, though short of total victory, was to be the high water mark of the Roman empire in Britain.” |::|
Websites on Ancient Rome: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Rome sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Late Antiquity sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Forum Romanum forumromanum.org ;
“Outlines of Roman History” forumromanum.org; “The Private Life of the Romans” forumromanum.org|; BBC Ancient Rome bbc.co.uk/history; Perseus Project - Tufts University; perseus.tufts.edu ; Lacus Curtius penelope.uchicago.edu;
The Roman Empire in the 1st Century pbs.org/empires/romans;
The Internet Classics Archive classics.mit.edu ;
Bryn Mawr Classical Review bmcr.brynmawr.edu;
De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors roman-emperors.org;
British Museum ancientgreece.co.uk; Oxford Classical Art Research Center: The Beazley Archive beazley.ox.ac.uk ;
Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org/about-the-met/curatorial-departments/greek-and-roman-art;
The Internet Classics Archive kchanson.com ;
Cambridge Classics External Gateway to Humanities Resources web.archive.org/web; Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy iep.utm.edu;
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy plato.stanford.edu; Ancient Rome resources for students from the Courtenay Middle School Library web.archive.org ; History of ancient Rome OpenCourseWare from the University of Notre Dame /web.archive.org ; United Nations of Roma Victrix (UNRV) History unrv.com
Importance of Britain
Dr Mike Ibeji wrote for the BBC: “People are always tempted to view Britain under the Romans as a backwater province of Rome - of little importance to the empire and offering even less profit. Yet throughout its history, Roman Britain acted as a proving ground for aspiring politicians and a powerbase for usurping emperors. Set aside arguments over whether Britain was 'profitable' or not (it certainly was when Julian used it to supply Germany in the 360s!), for such calculations never mattered to the empire. Britain was a frontier province, which contained three legions for most of its chequered history. As such, it was important. [Source: Dr Mike Ibeji, BBC, February 17, 2011 |::|]
“Britain was invaded because it could further a Roman's career. It was conquered for similar reasons. The Boudiccan Revolt was only possible because the governor, Paullinus, was pursuing military glory against the druids. His distinguished subordinate and eventual successor Agricola founded a very respectable career, including a consulship in Rome, on subduing the rest of Britain. |::|
“According to Tacitus, he was only prevented from conquering Scotland by the envy of the emperor Domitian and the half-finished legionary fortress at Inchtuthil tends to corroborate reports of a hurried withdrawal on imperial orders (though Domitian did have a German war on his hands for which he needed troops). Domitian's father, Vespasian, had begun an illustrious senatorial career with command of the legion that won the Battle of Medway and took Maiden Castle. He had ended it as emperor. |::|
“Scotland remained a holy grail for the Romans, and once the emperor Hadrian had marked out the boundaries with a prestige project of his own, it became a legitimate target for conquest. Hadrian's immediate successor Antoninus Pius had a go, as did Septimius Severus and the father of the emperor Constantine, Constantius Chlorus. |::| “Constantine proved what many Roman generals before him had realised - that Britain was an excellent base from which to mount a rebellion. When his father died at York in A.D. 301, the troops immediately acclaimed him as emperor, and he used the British army as the core of the force with which he finally conquered the empire. At the Milvian Bridge in A.D. 312, he scrawled the Chi-Rho symbol of Christianity onto his soldiers' shields, and won a miraculous victory. In gratitude, he made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, and at the Council of Nicea established the Nicene Creed of the Catholic Church. In one respect, you could say that Britain was the birthplace of Roman Catholicism. |::|
“In A.D. 410, the civitates of Britain sent a letter to the emperor Honorius, asking him to come to their aid against the Saxon invaders. He wrote back telling them to 'look to their own defences', and Roman influence in Britain was officially ended. The very fact that the citizens of Britain appealed to the Roman emperor for help says much about their self-perception as citizens of the empire, and the fact that the emperor could not oblige says much about the pressure he was under. Britain had already 'looked to her own defences' in A.D. 259 under the Gallic Empire and A.D. 284 under Carausius, and both times she had been brought back into the fold. Britain had been conquered to satisfy the need of an individual Roman emperor. Once taken, the imperial image required that it should be held onto tenaciously. Its loss was the first ominous death knell of Rome. |::|
Tacitus on the Down Side of Roman Imperialism
The Roman historian Tacitus put words in the mouth of an ancient Briton leader, Galgacus, who was staring down a Roman army ready to attack him, to make a point on the down sides of Roman imperialism. Tactitus wrote: “Meanwhile, among the many leaders, one superior to the rest in valour and in birth, Galgacus by name, is said to have thus harangued the multitude gathered around him and clamouring for battle: “Whenever I consider the origin of this war and the necessities of our position, I have a sure confidence that this day, and this union of yours, will be the beginning of freedom to the whole of Britain. To all of us slavery is a thing unknown; there are no lands beyond us, and even the sea is not safe, menaced as we are by a Roman fleet. And thus in war and battle, in which the brave find glory, even the coward will find safety. Former contests, in which, with varying fortune, the Romans were resisted, still left in us a last hope of succour, inasmuch as being the most renowned nation of Britain, dwelling in the very heart of the country, and out of sight of the shores of the conquered, we could keep even our eyes unpolluted by the contagion of slavery. To us who dwell on the uttermost confines of the earth and of freedom, this remote sanctuary of Britain’s glory has up to this time been a defence. [Source: Tacitus (b.56/57-after 117 A.D.), “Galgacus: On Roman Imperialism”, “Life of Cnaeus Julius Agricola,” 29-33, c. A.D. 98, translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb]
“Now, however, the furthest limits of Britain are thrown open, and the unknown always passes for the marvellous. But there are no tribes beyond us, nothing indeed but waves and rocks, and the yet more terrible Romans, from whose oppression escape is vainly sought by obedience and submission. Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace.
““Nature has willed that every man’s children and kindred should be his dearest objects. Yet these are torn from us by conscriptions to be slaves elsewhere. Our wives and our sisters, even though they may escape violation from the enemy, are dishonoured under the names of friendship and hospitality. Our goods and fortunes they collect for their tribute, our harvests for their granaries. Our very hands and bodies, under the lash and in the midst of insult, are worn down by the toil of clearing forests and morasses. Creatures born to slavery are sold once and for all, and are, moreover, fed by their masters; but Britain is daily purchasing, is daily feeding, her own enslaved people. And as in a household the last comer among the slaves is always the butt of his companions, so we in a world long used to slavery, as the newest and most contemptible, are marked out for destruction. We have neither fruitful plains, nor mines, nor harbours, for the working of which we may be spared. Valour, too, and high spirit in subjects, are offensive to rulers; besides, remoteness and seclusion, while they give safety, provoke suspicion. Since then you cannot hope for quarter, take courage, I beseech you, whether it be safety or renown that you hold most precious. Under a woman’s leadership the Brigantes were able to burn a colony, to storm a camp, and had not success ended in supineness, might have thrown off the yoke. Let us, then, a fresh and unconquered people, never likely to abuse our freedom, show forthwith at the very first onset what heroes Caledonia has in reserve.
““Do you suppose that the Romans will be as brave in war as they are licentious in peace? To our strifes and discords they owe their fame, and they turn the errors of an enemy to the renown of their own army, an army which, composed as it is of every variety of nations, is held together by success and will be broken up by disaster. These Gauls and Germans, and, I blush to say, these Britons, who, though they lend their lives to support a stranger’s rule, have been its enemies longer than its subjects, you cannot imagine to be bound by fidelity and affection. Fear and terror there certainly are, feeble bonds of attachment; remove them, and those who have ceased to fear will begin to hate. All the incentives to victory are on our side. The Romans have no wives to kindle their courage; no parents to taunt them with flight, man have either no country or one far away. Few in number, dismayed by their ignorance, looking around upon a sky, a sea, and forests which are all unfamiliar to them; hemmed in, as it were, and enmeshed, the Gods have delivered them into our hands. Be not frightened by the idle display, by the glitter of gold and of silver, which can neither protect nor wound. In the very ranks of the enemy we shall find our own forces. Britons will acknowledge their own cause; Gauls will remember past freedom; the other Germans will abandon them, as but lately did the Usipii. Behind them there is nothing to dread. The forts are ungarrisoned; the colonies in the hands of aged men; what with disloyal subjects and oppressive rulers, the towns are ill-affected and rife with discord. On the one side you have a general and an army; on the other, tribute, the mines, and all the other penalties of an enslaved people. Whether you endure these for ever, or instantly avenge them, this field is to decide. Think, therefore, as you advance to battle, at once of your ancestors and of your posterity.”
Boudicca, the British Warrior Queen
Roman moneylenders forced peasants into debt. A violent uprising led by the Iceni and Trinovnates broke out. In 60 A.D., Boudicca, a "Warrior Queen" from the Iceni tribe with brilliant red hair, challenged Roman rule after she was flogged, her husband was killed and her daughter raped.
After experiencing a vision in which she saw a theater that "echoed with shrieks," human copses floating in "a blood-red color in the sea" and "phantom settlement..in the ruins," Boudicca lead her daughters and chariot-mounted tribesman against a Roman settlement in present-day Colchester, shouting, "We British are used to women commanders in war."
Boudicca's force was thoroughly annihilated by the disciplined Roman legions. A Roman force of 10,000 defeated the Britons, whose casualties were estimated by some at 100,000. According to the Roman historian Tacitus: "It was a glorious victory...According to one report almost 80,000 thousand Britons fell. Our own casualties were about 400 dead and a slightly larger number of wounded. Boudicca poisoned herself."
Dr Mike Ibeji wrote for the BBC: “The best way to understand how Rome controlled her provinces is to look at why that control broke down in A.D. 60. The Boudiccan revolt was caused not because the Iceni were opposed to Roman rule, but because they had embraced it too whole-heartedly. [Source: Dr Mike Ibeji, BBC, February 17, 2011 |::|]
“Rome controlled its provinces by bribing the local elite. They were given power, wealth, office and status on condition that they kept the peace and adopted Roman ways. If you took a Roman name, spoke Latin and lived in a villa, you were assured of receiving priesthoods and positions of local power. The quid pro quo was that you were expected to spend your money and influence in providing Roman amenities for your people, newly civilised in the literal sense that Roman towns and cities were founded for them to live in. In Britain, physical evidence of this process can be seen in inscriptions at the colonia of Colchester and in the palace of the client king Cogidubnus at Fishbourne, with its spectacular mosaics. |::|
“However, new provinces brought with them new markets and unscrupulous speculators eager to fleece the unwary. It was like the introduction of the free market to the post-communist world, and the worst sharks were in the Imperial Household itself. Vast loans were granted at ruinous rates of interest to the British aristocracy, by the likes of Seneca, the emperor Nero's tutor and adviser. At the same time, those who had been made priests of the Imperial Cult at Colchester found it an expensive task. |::|
“It was at this point that Prasutagus, king of the Iceni, died. In his will, he left half of his kingdom to the emperor Nero, hoping in this way to secure the other half for his wife, Boudicca. However, the imperial procurator, Decianus Catus, was aware that Nero viewed a half-share of an estate as a personal snub, and moved to sequester the lot. At the same time, he sent in the bailiffs to act on the loans outstanding and allowed the local centurions to requisition provisions for the army. When the royal family resisted these moves, Boudicca was flogged and her daughters were raped. |::|
“There could be only one consequence. The humiliated Iceni rose up in revolt, joined by other East Anglian tribes who had similar grievances. They could not have picked a better time. The governor, Suetonius Paullinus, was in Anglesey, subduing the druids, with most of the army of the province. What remained of the Ninth Legion was massacred when it tried to stop the rebels, and Colchester, London and Verulamium were razed to the ground. The black earth of the destruction layer and mutilated tombstones attest to the ferocity of the British assault. With just 200 men to defend him, Decianus Catus fled to Gaul at their approach. |::|
“Paullinus rushed back from Anglesey to deal with the revolt. The site of the final battle is still disputed, but the form it took is well described (Tacitus provides a graphic depiction of the whole revolt). Boudicca was defeated and committed suicide shortly afterwards. The punitive expedition into Iceni territory was halted when it was feared that further reprisals would harm future imperial revenues. Meanwhile Catus was replaced by Classicianus, a Romanised Gaul from Trier, who took a softer approach. His tombstone can be found in London, which became the new provincial capital at this time. |::|
Attack on the Druids at Mona
Tacitus vividly described a battle in A.D. 61 at Mona, now Anglesey, an island off the coast of northwest Wales, where Celts had gathered in a Druid sanctuary for one last stand against the Romans. Tacitus wrote: "All around, the Druids, lifting up their hands to heaven and pouring forth dreadful imprecations, scared our soldiers, by the unfamiliar sight, so that, as if their limbs were paralyzed, they stood motionless, and exposed to wounds."
The Romans, led by Suetonius Paulinus, arrived on Mona in flat bottom boats and were welcomed by shouting Celtic soldiers and Druid men with long black beards and Druid women in black cloaks, who waved flaming torches and caste out curses. The Roman soldiers hesitated at first, never having been greeted by such as bizarre spectacle before, but were urged on by Paulinus. The Romans ended up slaughtering every Celt they could lay their hands on and chopped sacred trees in the Druid sanctuary.
Tacitus wrote in “The Annals” Book XIV (A.D. 110-120): “During the consulship of Lucius Caesennius Paetus and Publius Petronius Turpilianus [AD 60-61], a dreadful calamity befell the army in Britain. Aulus Didius, as has been mentioned, aimed at no extension of territory, content with maintaining the conquests already made. Veranius, who succeeded him, did little more: he made a few incursions into the country of the Silures, and was hindered by death from prosecuting the war with vigour. He had been respected, during his life, for the severity of his manners; in his end, the mark fell off, and his last will discovered the low ambition of a servile flatterer, who, in those moments, could offer incense to Nero, and add, with vain ostentation, that if he lived two years, it was his design to make the whole island obedient to the authority of the prince. [Source: Chapter 29: Military campaign in Wales, Tacitus: (b.56/57-after 117 A.D.): Boudicca, “The Annals 14: 29-37, translation from Latin is adapted from Arthur Murphy (“Works of Tacitus”, 1794)]
“Paulinus Suetonius succeeded to the command; an officer of distinguished merit. To be compared with Corbulo was his ambition. His military talents gave him pretensions, and the voice of the people, who never leave exalted merit without a rival, raised him to the highest eminence. By subduing the mutinous spirit of the Britons he hoped to equal the brilliant success of Corbulo in Armenia. With this view, he resolved to subdue the isle of Mona; a place in habited by a warlike people, and a common refuge for all the discontented Britons. In order to facilitate his approach to a difficult and deceitful shore, he ordered a number of flat-bottomed boats to be constructed. In these he wafted over the infantry, while the cavalry, partly by fording over the shallows, and partly by swimming their horses, advanced to gain a footing on the island.
“On the opposite shore stood the Britons, close embodied, and prepared for action. Women were seen running through the ranks in wild disorder; their apparel funeral; their hair loose to the wind, in their hands flaming torches, and their whole appearance resembling the frantic rage of the Furies. The Druids were ranged in order, with hands uplifted, invoking the gods, and pouring forth horrible imprecations. The novelty of the fight struck the Romans with awe and terror. They stood in stupid amazement, as if their limbs were benumbed, riveted to one spot, a mark for the enemy. The exhortations of the general diffused new vigour through the ranks, and the men, by mutual reproaches, inflamed each other to deeds of valour. They felt the disgrace of yielding to a troop of women, and a band of fanatic priests; they advanced their standards, and rushed on to the attack with impetuous fury. [Source: Chapter 30: The Druids at Mona Island, Tacitus: (b.56/57-after 117 A.D.): Boudicca, “The Annals 14: 29-37, translation from Latin is adapted from Arthur Murphy (“Works of Tacitus”, 1794)]
“The Britons perished in the flames, which they themselves had kindled. The island fell, and a garrison was established to retain it in subjection. The religious groves, dedicated to superstition and barbarous rites, were levelled to the ground. In those recesses, the natives [stained] their altars with the blood of their prisoners, and in the entrails of men explored the will of the gods. While Suetonius was employed in making his arrangements to secure the island, he received intelligence that Britain had revolted, and that the whole province was up in arms.”
Causes of Boudicca's Revolt
Tacitus wrote in “The Annals” Book XIV (A.D. 110-120): “Prasutagus, the late king of the Icenians, in the course of a long reign had amassed considerable wealth. By his will he left the whole to his two daughters and the emperor in equal shares, conceiving, by that stroke of policy, that he should provide at once for the tranquility of his kingdom and his family. [Source: Chapter 31: Causes of Boudicca's Revolt, Tacitus: (b.56/57-after 117 A.D.): Boudicca, “The Annals 14: 29-37, translation from Latin is adapted from Arthur Murphy (“Works of Tacitus”, 1794)]
“The event was otherwise. His dominions were ravaged by the centurions; the slaves pillaged his house, and his effects were seized as lawful plunder. His wife, Boudicca, was disgraced with cruel stripes; her daughters were ravished, and the most illustrious of the Icenians were, by force, deprived of the positions which had been transmitted to them by their ancestors. The whole country was considered as a legacy bequeathed to the plunderers. The relations of the deceased king were reduced to slavery.
“Exasperated by their acts of violence, and dreading worse calamities, the Icenians had recourse to arms. The Trinobantians joined in the revolt. The neighboring states, not as yet taught to crouch in bondage, pledged themselves, in secret councils, to stand forth in the cause of liberty. What chiefly fired their indignation was the conduct of the veterans, lately planted as a colony at Camulodunum. These men treated the Britons with cruelty and oppression; they drove the natives from their habitations, and calling them by the [shameful] names of slaves and captives, added insult to their tyranny. In these acts of oppression, the veterans were supported by the common soldiers; a set of men, by their habits of life, trained to licentiousness, and, in their turn, expecting to reap the same advantages. The temple built in honour of Claudius was another cause of discontent. In the eye of the Britons it seemed the citadel of eternal slavery. The priests, appointed to officiate at the altars, with a pretended zeal for religion, devoured the whole substance of the country. To over-run a colony, which lay quite naked and exposed, without a single fortification to defend it, did not appear to the incensed and angry Britons an enterprise that threatened either danger or difficulty. The fact was, the Roman generals attended to improvements to taste and elegance, but neglected the useful. They embellished the province, and took no care to defend it.”
Omens and Early Roman Setbacks at Camulodunum
Tacitus wrote in “The Annals” Book XIV (A.D. 110-120): “While the Britons were preparing to throw off the yoke, the statue of victory, erected at Camulodunum, fell from its base, without any apparent cause, and lay extended on the ground with its face averted, as if the goddess yielded to the enemies of Rome. Women in restless ecstasy rushed among the people, and with frantic screams denounced impending ruin. In the council-chamber of the Romans hideous clamours were heard in a foreign accent; savage howlings filled the theatre, and near the mouth of the Thames the image of a colony in ruins was seen in the transparent water; the sea was purpled with blood, and, at the tide of ebb, the figures of human bodies were traced in the sand. [Source: Chapter 32: Omens and Early Roman Setbacks at Camulodunum, Tacitus: (b.56/57-after 117 A.D.): Boudicca, “The Annals 14: 29-37, translation from Latin is adapted from Arthur Murphy (“Works of Tacitus”, 1794)] “By these appearances the Romans were sunk in despair, while the Britons anticipated a glorious victory. Suetonius, in the meantime, was detained in the isle of Mona. In this alarming crisis, the veterans sent to Catus Decianus, the procurator of the province, for a reinforcement. Two hundred men, and those not completely armed, were all that officer could spare. The colony had but a handful of soldiers. Their temple was strongly fortified, and there they hoped to make a stand. But even for the defense of that place no measures were concerted. Secret enemies mixed in all their deliberations. No fosse was made; no palisade thrown up; nor were the women, and such as were disabled by age or infirmity, sent out of the garrison. Unguarded and unprepared, they were taken by surprise, and, in the moment of profound peace, overpowered by the Barbarians in one general assault. The colony was laid waste with fire and sword.
“The temple held out, but, after a siege of two days, was taken by storm. Petilius Cerealis, who commanded the ninth legion, marched to the relief of the place. The Britons, flushed with success, advanced to give him battle. The legion was put to the rout, and the infantry cut to pieces. Cerealis escaped with the cavalry to his entrenchments. Catus Decianus, the procurator of the province, alarmed at the scene of carnage which he beheld on every side, and further dreading the indignation of a people, whom by rapine and oppression he had driven to despair, betook himself to flight, and crossed over into Gaul.”
Attack on Colchester
Dr Mike Ibeji wrote for the BBC: “ At the time of the revolt, the Romans were so sure of their hold on East Anglia that the only troops in the area were 200 members of the procurator's guard. Even joined by the veteran colonists, these were woefully inadequate to stop the tribal tide that descended upon an undefended Colchester. Tacitus says that: 'It seemed easy to destroy the settlement; for it had no walls. That was a matter which Roman commanders, thinking of amenities rather than needs, had neglected.' (Annals xiv.30), and the archaeological record confirms that the walls of the legionary fortress had been filled in to make way for the temple precinct and other amenities. [Source: Dr Mike Ibeji, BBC, February 17, 2011 |::|]
“It was to this precinct that the survivors of the attack retreated, barricading themselves into the inner sanctuary of the temple, which was burned to the ground with them in it. It is possible today to huddle inside the foundations of that temple and envisage those last hours: men, women and children crammed within a dark space like this, waiting in terror for relief that never came, as they listened to thousands of bloodthirsty Britons destroying their town outside. |::|
“Eventually they could smell the choking smoke and feel the crackling flames that spelled the end. The temple was burned to the ground. Only the foundations survive. The cult statue of Claudius that stood within it was smashed to pieces, and its head was discovered a few years ago in the River Alde a few miles from the town.” |::|
Suetonius Abandons London and Prepares to Counterattack
Tacitus wrote in “The Annals” Book XIV (A.D. 110-120): “Suetonius, undismayed by this disaster, marched through the heart of the country as far as London; a place not dignified with the name of a colony, but the chief residence of merchants, and the great mart of trade and commerce. At that place he meant to fix the feat of war; but reflecting on the scanty numbers of his little army, and the fatal rashness of Cerealis, he resolved to quit the station, and, by giving up one post, secure the rest of the province. Neither supplications, nor the tears of the inhabitants could induce him to change his plan. The signal for the march was given. All who chose to follow his banners were taken under his protection. Of all who, on account of their advanced age, the weakness of their sex, of the attractions of the situation, thought proper to remain behind, not one escaped the rage of the Barbarians. The inhabitants of Verulamium, a municipal town, were in like manner put to the sword. [Source: Chapter 33: Suetonius Abandons London to the Boudiccan Forces, Tacitus: (b.56/57-after 117 A.D.): Boudicca, “The Annals 14: 29-37, translation from Latin is adapted from Arthur Murphy (“Works of Tacitus”, 1794)]
” The genius of a savage people leads them always in quest of plunder; and, accordingly, the Britons left behind them all places of strength. Wherever they expected feeble resistance, and considerable booty, there they were sure to attack with the fiercest rage. Military skill was not the talent of Barbarians. The number massacred in the places which have been mentioned, amounted to no less than seventy thousand, all citizens or allies of Rome. To make prisoners, and reserve them for slavery, or to exchange them, was not in the idea of a people, who despised all the laws of war. The halter and the gibbet, slaughter and defoliation, fire and sword, were the marks of savage valour. Aware that vengeance would overtake them, they were resolved to make sure of their revenge, and glut themselves with the blood of their enemies.
“The fourteenth legion, with the veterans of the twentieth, and the auxiliaries from the adjacent stations, having joined Suetonius, his army amounted to little less than ten thousand men. Thus reinforced, he resolved, without loss of time, to bring on a decisive action. For this purpose he chose a spot encircled with woods, narrow at the entrance, and sheltered in the rear by a thick forest. In that situation he had no fear of an ambush. The enemy, he knew, had no approach but in front. An open plain lay before him. He drew up his men in the following order: the legions in close array formed the center; the light armed troops were stationed at hand to serve as occasion might require: the cavalry took post in the wings. The Britons brought into the field an incredible multitude. They formed no regular line of battle. Detached parties and loose battalions displayed their numbers, in frantic transport bounding with exultation, and so sure of victory, that they placed their wives in wagons at the extremity of the plain, where they might survey the scene of action, and behold the wonders of British valour.” [Source: Chapter 34: Suetonius Prepares to Counterattack]
Boudicca and Suetonius Address Their Her Armies
Tacitus wrote in “The Annals” Book XIV (A.D. 110-120): “Boudicca, in a [chariot], with her two daughters before her, drove through the ranks. She harangued the different nations in their turn: "This," she said, "is not the first time that the Britons have been led to battle by a woman. But now she did not come to boast the pride of a long line of ancestry, nor even to recover her kingdom and the plundered wealth of her family. She took the field, like the meanest among them, to assert the cause of public liberty, and to seek revenge for her body seamed with ignominious stripes, and her two daughters infamously ravished. From the pride and arrogance of the Romans nothing is sacred; all are subject to violation; the old endure the scourge, and the virgins are deflowered. But the vindictive gods are now at hand. A Roman legion dared to face the warlike Britons: with their lives they paid for their rashness; those who survived the carnage of that day, lie poorly hid behind their entrenchments, meditating nothing but how to save themselves by an ignominious flight. From the din of preparation, and the shouts of the British army, the Romans, even now, shrink back with terror. What will be their case when the assault begins? Look round, and view your numbers. Behold the proud display of warlike spirits, and consider the motives for which we draw the avenging sword. On this spot we must either conquer, or die with glory. There is no alternative. Though a woman, my resolution is fixed: the men, if they please, may survive with infamy, and live in bondage." [Source: Chapter 35: Boudicca Addresses Her Army, Tacitus: (b.56/57-after 117 A.D.): Boudicca, “The Annals 14: 29-37, translation from Latin is adapted from Arthur Murphy (“Works of Tacitus”, 1794)]
“Suetonius, in a moment of such importance, did not remain silent. He expected every thing from the valour of his men, and yet urged every topic that could inspire and animate them to the attack. "Despise," he said, "the savage uproar, the yells and shouts of undisciplined Barbarians. In that mixed multitude, the women out-number the men. Void of spirit, unprovided with arms, they are not soldiers who come to offer battle; they are bastards, runaways, the refuse of your swords, who have often fled before you, and will again betake themselves to flight when they see the conqueror flaming in the ranks of war. In all engagements it is the valour of a few that turns the fortune of the day. It will be your immortal glory, that with a scanty number you can equal the exploits of a great and powerful army. Keep your ranks; discharge your javelins; rush forward to a close attack; bear down all with your bucklers, and hew a passage with your swords. Pursue the vanquished, and never think of spoil and plunder. Conquer, and victory gives you everything." This speech was received with warlike acclamations. The soldiers burned with impatience for the onset, the veterans brandished their javelins, and the ranks displayed such an intrepid countenance, that Suetonius, anticipating the victory, gave the signal for the charge. [Source: Chapter 36: Suetonius Meanwhile Addresses His Army, Tacitus: (b.56/57-after 117 A.D.): Boudicca, “The Annals 14: 29-37, translation from Latin is adapted from Arthur Murphy (“Works of Tacitus”, 1794)]
Decisive Battles of the Boudicca Rebellion
Tacitus wrote in “The Annals” Book XIV (A.D. 110-120): “The engagement began. The Roman legion presented a close embodied line. The narrow defile gave them the shelter of a rampart. The Britons advanced with ferocity, and discharged their darts at random. In that instant, the Romans rushed forward in the form of a wedge. The auxiliaries followed with equal ardour. The cavalry, at the same time, bore down upon the enemy, and, with their pikes, overpowered all who dared to make a stand. [Source: Chapter 37: The Decisive Battle, Tacitus: (b.56/57-after 117 A.D.): Boudicca, “The Annals 14: 29-37, translation from Latin is adapted from Arthur Murphy (“Works of Tacitus”, 1794)]
“The Britons betook themselves to flight, but their waggons in the rear obstructed their passage. A dreadful slaughter followed. Neither sex nor age was spared. The cattle, falling in one promiscuous carnage, added to the heaps of slain. The glory of the day was equal to the most splendid victory of ancient times. According to some writers, not less than eighty thousand Britons were put to the sword. The Romans lost about four hundred men, and the wounded did not exceed that number.
:Boudicca, by a dose of poison, [ended] her life. Poenius Postumius, the Prefect in the camp of the second legion, as soon as he heard of the brave exploits of the fourteenth and twentieth legions, felt the disgrace of having, in disobedience to the orders of his general, robbed the soldiers under his command of their share in so complete a victory. Stung with remorse, he fell upon his sword, and expired on the spot.”
Archaeological Evidence of the Boudiccan Revolt?
On remains in Colchester possible linked to the Boudiccan Revolt, Dr Mike Ibeji wrote for the BBC: “There is evidence of this destruction throughout the town, though it can only be accessed through rostrum pics from the archaeological excavations and a few remains. The entire town was burned to the ground, leaving a black destruction layer and rubble in the soil. In some places, like Lion Walk, more tangible evidence of this destruction has survived. From a house in this site, the burned remains of a couch was recovered, its carbonised upholstery still intact. In the same house, a bowl of carbonised dates (and one plum) were also recovered. Each of these is a remarkable preservation of organic materials which do not usually survive. [Source: Dr Mike Ibeji, BBC, February 17, 2011 |::|]
“Interestingly, with the single exception of a charred skeleton from North Hill, no human remains unequivocally linked to the Boudiccan Revolt have been recovered. This may be because the townsfolk fled or were taken elsewhere to be massacred (Dio paints a chilling picture of mass sacrifices in sacred groves: Dio LXXII), though in my opinion nobody ever takes into account the clean-up operation that must have occurred afterwards. |::|
“On a more speculative note, the skulls and incomplete remains of six men were found in the legionary ditch at the Balkerne gate. Two of the skulls show evidence of wounds inflicted to the back of the head, one of which was hit a couple of times by poorly-aimed blows intended to sever the neck. These are invariably interpreted as executions, and I would not argue with that. However, since other evidence shows an arm chopped off above the elbow, I wonder whether these might be remains from the revolt, rather than the judicial executions they are usually thought to be? |::|
New Capital in London and Colchester Remains
On the rebuilding of a new city, Colchester after the Dr Mike Ibeji wrote for the BBC: “The ephemeral nature of the Boudiccan Revolt is evidenced by the speed with which the city rose from its ashes. By A.D. 65 it was surrounded by a newly built city wall. However, the Roman administration took this opportunity to move the capital south to the better-placed Londinium. [Source: Dr Mike Ibeji, BBC, February 17, 2011 |::|]
“Since it is so built-up, the remains of Roman Colchester's buildings are completely hidden, though you can still see the shape of the Roman town in the lines of its walls and main streets. The best example of a Roman town is Wroxeter, where the undisturbed remains of the Roman city of Viriconium have been painstakingly excavated by Birmingham University. The foundations of its forum and bath-house now form an English Heritage monument, and it is possible to see the layout of the whole site from the air. The best Roman bath-house site is of course the Temple of Aquae-Sulis at Bath. |::|
“For Roman villa life, we should go to Bignor, which is in my opinion the most impressive Roman villa site in Britain. Much of its walls survive, as well as an impressive collection of mosaics. From all of these sites there is a wealth of artefacts with which to illustrate the minutiae of Roman life. One of my favourites is the little set of comic figurines from a child's grave in Colchester. These depict a Roman dining party, with reclining figures, servants and even couches and chairs on which to put the figures. |::|
“By A.D. 200, Colchester itself was a modestly wealthy town. Its inhabitants could afford large, well-appointed town houses, whilst the wealthiest lived outside the towns in country villas. However, by the fourth century, most Roman towns were shrinking as those who could afford to do so shirked their civic responsibilities by living in ever more elaborate villa sites outside the city walls. “|::|
Decline of Romans in Britain
Dr. Neil Faulkner of the University of Bristol wrote for the BBC: “It could not last. The empire had been buoyed up by war booty. The end of expansion meant the end of subsidy. The emperors ratcheted up taxes. They conscripted labour. They allowed the army to 'live off the land' as it marched across the empire. The bloated imperial elite, the quarter-million-strong army, the thousands of miles of frontier to be guarded - it was a huge burden on the people of the provinces, a burden that was slowly eating away at the empire's economic vitality. [Source: Dr Neil Faulkner, BBC, March 29, 2011 |::|]
In the meantime,Rome's enemies were getting stronger, especially the Germans and Goths of central Europe, who threatened the Rhine and Danube frontiers. By the mid-third century AD, the great boom was over, and resources were ploughed into defence. Walls were built around the towns, turning them into fortresses. Inside, a slow decline had begun. Public buildings were boarded up and old mansions crumbled and became overgrown with weeds. |::| “Later attempts from above to revive the towns were ineffective. The Roman emperors of the later empire were more dictatorial and ruthless, aiming to centralize and streamline administration, and to dragoon the people into supporting the defence effort. Embracing Christianity was part of this programme - evidenced in Britain by a handful of late Roman churches found in excavation, some mosaics with Christian images, an occasional silver spoon or cup inscribed with Christian motifs. But government policy generated little enthusiasm. Society became apathetic, civic spirit dwindled, the towns continued to decline, and even the villas eventually succumbed.” |::|
Romans Leave Britain
The last Roman legions left Britain around A.D. 410 and few Romans remained until 442. When the Romans left they took with them their government, centralized authority and maintained infrastructure. With the Romans gone, Britain returned to a bunch of small kingdoms that fought among themselves. Roman buildings lasted for centuries after their departure. In an Anglo-Saxon poem called the “Ruin,” an 8th century poet wrote: "Bright were its palaces, its many bathing halls, /Its wealth of tall pinnacles, its tumult of warriors,/ Many a mead-hall filled with festive life,/ Until mighty fate overturned all."
Dr Mike Ibeji wrote for the BBC: “AD 410: the Empire is in turmoil; attacked from all sides, both internally and externally. Faced with invasion by a coalition of Picts and Saxons, the Roman citizens of Britain appeal to the Emperor for help; but Honorius is in no position to aid them. Rome has just been sacked, the Goths are ravaging Italy and the western half of his empire, where Britain lies, has been supporting a pretender. Honorius drafts them a reply telling them that they must 'look to their own defences'. With these words, Rome's official ties with Britain are lost. [Source: Dr Mike Ibeji, BBC, February 17, 2011 |::|]
“With the withdrawal of imperial authority, Roman Britain did not magically cease to exist. In fact, the emperor had lost control several years before. Britain had long been a bolt-hole for pretenders to the imperial purple, and in times of crisis it had a history of seceding from the empire and looking after its own affairs. This had happened again in A.D. 406, but the usurper, Constantine III, had become embroiled in Gaul and was trapped in Arles by another barbarian horde. In the wake of this failure, the citizens of Britain seem to have thrown out Constantine's officials and turned to the emperor for help - but he rejected them. |::|
Dr. Neil Faulkner of the University of Bristol wrote for the BBC: “Britain was repeatedly raided – by Anglo-Saxons in the south east, Irish in the west, and Picts in the north. New coastal forts were built to meet the threat, but the troops were stretched too thin to hold the line for long. |Then, when Italy itself was attacked, some troops were withdrawn from Britain altogether to defend the homeland. The end of empire is always messy, and Roman Britain was no exception. No clear decision to 'decolonise' Britain was made. Instead, the garrison was run down over a generation, and then the remnant was simply cast adrift to fend for itself. Army pay - represented by finds of Roman coins - ceased to arrive. The soldiers presumably 'demobilised' themselves, drifting off to make a living as outlaws, mercenaries, or farm labourers. The Romanised elite lost whatever residual control they still retained over the land and the people who worked it. [Source: Dr Neil Faulkner, BBC, March 29, 2011 |::|]
“By about 425 A.D. at the latest, Britain had ceased to be in any sense 'Roman'. Towns and villas had been abandoned, the only pottery was homemade, barter had replaced money and the mosaic and fresco workshops had all closed. Britain had entered a new age outside the empire, apart from the continent, an age without Roman tax collectors and landlords, and an age of turmoil and uncertainty in which new polities and new identities had yet to be forged. |::|
Saxons Take Over Britain
Dr Mike Ibeji wrote for the BBC: “Now Britain was on its own. The traditional story, told by both Saxon and British sources, is of a superbus tyrannus named Vortigern (which means 'High Chief' in Celtic), at the head of a council of British leaders. These leaders settled a group of Saxon mercenaries, led by Hengist and Horsa, in Kent, to protect their lands against Pictish raiders. The mercenaries then mutinied, and took over the lands they were supposed to protect. [Source: Dr Mike Ibeji, BBC, February 17, 2011 |::|]
“The language used indicates that some semblance of Roman administration had survived into sub-Roman times and was falling back on the old late Roman practice of hiring barbarian mercenaries. When this happened is not clear. What is clear is that St Germanus of Auxerre was able to visit a recognisably Roman St Albans (Verulamium) to engage in ecclesiastical debate as late as A.D. 445. According to his biographer he led its inhabitants in defence of the town against a combined Saxon/Pictish raid. |::|
“This blood and thunder depiction of the coming of the Saxons could be a construct of our sources, which rely heavily on the oral tradition of Celtic and Saxon battle poems. Only one source, Gildas, was writing within a hundred years of the events described, and even he was trying to prove his own agenda, that the kings of Briton had lost their land to the Saxons through debauchery and godless living. It is as if we were trying to tell the story of the creation of Ireland with only Dr Paisley and Irish Republican folk-songs to rely on. |::|
“While the lords of the land fought for control, what was happening on a local level to the ordinary inhabitant of sub-Roman Britain? The archaeological record seems to tell a more peaceful tale. There is no indication of wholesale burning or murder with the coming of the Saxons. At certain rural sites, such as West Stow and Mucking, the evidence suggests that the Saxon settlers were allocated marginal land next to an existing Romano-British settlement. Who was in control here, the Romano-Britons or the Saxons? |::|
Life in Britain After the Romans Left
Dr Mike Ibeji wrote for the BBC: “What of the cities? There is no doubt that urban life declined in the decades following the withdrawal of Rome. This was because the cities had lost their central function as centres for taxation and administration, but it had been happening long before Honorius put pen to paper. [Source: Dr Mike Ibeji, BBC, February 17, 2011 |::|]
“In the latter part of the fourth century, the urban aristocracy had been moving out of the towns, trying to avoid their civic responsibilities and no longer spending money on maintaining public buildings. Imperial coinage had stopped being sent to the province some time during the 370s, and without it the towns had lost their main raison d'etre. Commercial enterprises, such as the pottery industry, which relied on the towns to distribute its goods, ceased to exist except in very localised areas. As the infrastructure disappeared, the towns shrank. For all these reasons, Roman Britain was starting to slip away long before the Saxons invaded the land. |::|
“Yet in many of the towns, civic life continued into the fifth century. Conscious attempts to live a form of Roman life persisted around early Christian churches such as those at St Albans, Lincoln, and Cornhill in London. Elsewhere, the populations of some Roman towns, such as Wroxeter and York, re-used old civic buildings for a more domestic purpose. The old bathing complex at Wroxeter was now the site of a large, timber town house surrounded by shops in a late Roman style. |::|
“So how do these two traditions, the historical and archaeological, combine? There can be no doubt that the sub-Roman period was one of violent unrest. Hill-forts such as South Cadbury were re-occupied by Romano-British inhabitants, who strengthened their walls, presumably against some threat. Though places like Canterbury show no evidence of destruction, they seem to have been abandoned a few years prior to their occupation by the Saxons. In other areas, it is so difficult to determine who is Saxon, and who is not, that it seems likely that the peasantry simply got on with their lives while the aristocracy fought over whose privilege it was to rule them. |::|
“This is where we turn to the historical record. The history of the period records the deeds and exploits of great men: often semi-mythological figures who represent a more general basic truth. The story of Vortigern and the Saxon rebellion may not be be accurate in its detail, but it still illustrates the way in which the rulers of the sub-Roman province first lost control to the Saxons. |::|
“Such stories are likely to have had a basis in reality, onto which was attached the mythological trappings of the end of an era. They tell of an attempt by sub-Roman authority to maintain some semblance of Roman order, and the internecine squabbles that ensued when that attempt broke down. This resulted in the Anglo-Saxons becoming overlords of the south-eastern half of Britain, whilst the general populace continued in its usual way. |::|
“But Britain was now no longer Roman. The Roman era had ended and the Anglo-Saxon era had begun. The survivors of Roman Britain lamented that loss, and out of their mythology rose another figure to symbolise the passing of the age. That figure was Arthur, and his story lies in the new Anglo-Saxon age that was to come. |::|
Anglo-Saxons Embrace Roman Civilization
Dr Mike Ibeji wrote for the BBC: “Both the sub-Roman Britons and the invading Anglo-Saxons were desperate to maintain some semblance of Roman civilisation - after all, this is precisely what made the empire so attractive to the barbarians - but the former no longer had the power and the latter did not have the experience to make it work. If Gildas is to be believed, the sub-Roman aristocracy refused to co-operate with the barbarian invaders and withdrew into Wales, whilst the Anglo-Saxons occupied the old Roman sites. Without the infrastructure of the Roman imperial machine in place to run the show, Roman civilisation could not be maintained, and the safest place to be was behind the walls of re-used hill forts and the abandoned towns. [Source: Dr Mike Ibeji, BBC, February 17, 2011 |::|]
“This is what happened to Colchester. Anglo-Saxon settlers moved in and established grubenhauser style huts on the remnants of the Roman city almost immediately. At Lion Walk, a fifth-century hut like those found at West Stow in Suffolk was built directly on top of an abandoned Romano-British house soon after its abandonment. We can imagine the old sub-Roman population gradually moving out as it became impossible to maintain any semblance of civil life; the uncared for buildings eroding and the new settlers moving within the protection of the city walls to set up house on top of the rubble - all within a generation. |::|
“They even used the same street plan, so that the High Street of modern Colchester still runs along the route of the Via Praetoria of the old Roman fort, with Head Street and North Hill forming a T-junction at one end along the line of the Via Principalis. |::|
“Yet just because civil life had to be abandoned, it does not mean that everyone moved out of the cities completely. There is not enough evidence to say anything much about Colchester but in Wroxeter, there is good evidence that the bath-house was still being used as a public space throughout the fifth century. Though it had ceased in its original function, its ceiling was deliberately dismantled and used to create a tiled square some time between 490 and 550. After that, a Roman-style winged building was erected inside the shell and remained in use for at least 75 years. This means that people were living a recognisably Roman style of life in Wroxeter well into the seventh century. |::|
“As the new settlers became more sophisticated in their building techniques, they began to erect public buildings out of the rubble that was lying all around them. Colchester has several outstanding examples of this practice, the most significant of which is Holy Trinity Church. Built fairly late, during the eleventh century, it is made entirely out of re-used Roman stone: the perfect example of an Anglicised Roman institution (the Church) built out of the rubble of Roman Britain. |::|
“Finally, Colchester Castle, founded by William the Conqueror himself, was built once again out of re-used Roman stone, and was deliberately placed around the base of the old Roman temple to give its foundations strength. This great monument to the last of Britain's conquerors was therefore placed directly on the spot where the first great monument to the conquest of Britain had been erected over 1,000 years before. |::|
Decapitated Gladiators Show Genetic Impact of the Romans on Britain
DNA from seven decapitated skeletons thought to be gladiators is helping researchers unravel the genetic impact of the Roman Empire, with initial findings suggesting genetic impact of the Romans on Britain is considerably less than previously thought. Taylor Kubota wrote in Live Science: “The headless skeletons were excavated between 2004 and 2005 from a Roman burial site in Driffield Terrace in York, England, the archaeologists said. Around the time the bodies were buried, between the second and fourth centuries A.D., the area that's now York was the Roman Empire's capital of northern Britain, called Eboracum. The cemetery where the bodies were discovered was located in a prominent area, near a main road that led out of the city, according to the researchers. [Source: Taylor Kubota, Live Science, January 28, 2016]
“Most of the skeletons found at this site were of males younger than 45 who were taller than average and showed evidence of trauma, such as cuts to their arms and fingers, the archaeologists said. Famously, the majority of them had been decapitated. These standout traits led some experts to suggest that this was a burial site for gladiators. However, it is also possible that these men were in the military, which, in Roman times, had a minimum height requirement, the researchers said. [See Photos of the Decapitated Gladiator Skeletons]
“"It was a very curious assemblage of individuals with their heads cut off, who may or may not be gladiators," said Matthew Collins, a professor of archaeology at the University of York and one of the paper's authors. The distinctiveness of these remains were featured in two documentaries in the years following the excavation, "Timewatch: The mystery of the headless Romans" in 2006 and "Gladiators: Back From the Dead" in 2010.
“In the new study, Collins and his colleagues collected high-quality DNA samples from the dense petrous bone of the inner ears from the skeletons. In total, nine genomes were compared: seven from the York Romans (all male) and two from skeletons found in other cemeteries, including one from a more ancient Iron Age female and one from a more recent Anglo-Saxon male. The genomes from the decapitated Romans were found to be similar to the Iron Age genome but significantly different from the Anglo-Saxon genome. This suggests that the Roman Empire's genetic influence on Britain was not nearly as strong as its cultural influence, the researchers said. "We are used to the idea of the Romans coming in and changing things," Collins said. "Yes, they changed things, but the people fundamentally didn't change."
“The results also indicate that the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons during the Dark Ages had a greater effect on the genetic makeup of Britain than did the Roman Empire. Nonetheless, this period of history is still shrouded in mystery, the researchers said. “The new study also revealed that the York Romans were genetically similar to modern-day British Celtic populations, especially the Welsh. This makes sense, the researchers said, given the movement of people from central Britain to the margins of the country following Anglo-Saxon invasions. [Photos: Gladiators of the Roman Empire]
“In addition to their more violent injuries, the Roman skeletons appeared to have experienced infections and childhood stress, the archaeologists said. Their genomes, in combination with evidence from studying different forms of elements (isotopes) and how they changed over time, showed that six of the seven were British, but one was from the Middle East, possibly Lebanon or Syria. This unexpected finding is an example of how dynamic the Roman Empire was — and brings to mind the present-day diaspora occurring in the Middle East, Collins said. It's likely that most of these men had brown eyes and black or brown hair, but one may have been blue-eyed and blond — the same as the Anglo-Saxon man, the researchers said.
“These remains have been studied extensively, but the sequencing of their DNA is a major achievement, the researchers said. In their paper, they called this "the first snapshot of British genomes in the early centuries A.D." Collins said that the researchers couldn't have attempted such a feat when the skeletons were first discovered because the approximate cost would have been about $70 million. (With technological advances, the cost of such analyses has gone down, according to the Human Genome Project.)
“Collins noted that the work exemplifies a new stage in archaeology. "The excitement is, we are now technologically able to do this kind of work, which is mind-boggling when you consider the great achievement of sequencing the first human genome was less than 15 years ago, and now we can sequence the genomes of Romans from York and Anglo-Saxons in Cambridge," Collins said. "It's just absolutely extraordinary." “The research was detailed online in the January 19, 2016issue of the journal Nature Communications.”
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Rome sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Late Antiquity sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Forum Romanum forumromanum.org ; “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\; “The Private Life of the Romans” by Harold Whetstone Johnston, Revised by Mary Johnston, Scott, Foresman and Company (1903, 1932) forumromanum.org |+|; BBC Ancient Rome bbc.co.uk/history/ ; Perseus Project - Tufts University; perseus.tufts.edu ; MIT, Online Library of Liberty, oll.libertyfund.org ; Gutenberg.org gutenberg.org Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Live Science, Discover magazine, Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, Encyclopædia Britannica, "The Discoverers" [∞] and "The Creators" [μ]" by Daniel Boorstin. "Greek and Roman Life" by Ian Jenkins from the British Museum.Time, Newsweek, Wikipedia, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides and various books and other publications.
Last updated October 2018